Something the market has not had to deal with for some time is once again occurring. That change? Slumping buybacks. Hiked dividends and big buybacks have been staples of the this historic bull run, but the latter are starting drying up. Share repurchases shrank for the first time in seven quarters in the second quarter. The total amount of buybacks—over $200 bn—is still quite robust, but it is a sign that companies are tightening up, which could be indicative of the overall direction of the economy.
FINSUM: This is immaterial. In 2018, companies spent $800 bn on buybacks, so $205.8 bn (the 2nd quarter’s figure) is actually ahead of pace.
Dividend stocks have been an interesting case over the last few quarters. In the fourth quarter, when interest rates looked to be headed higher, they actually outperformed the market (counterintuitively). This year, as rates look to be headed lower, they have performed quite well (up 16%), but still lagged a bit behind the S&P 500. The question is where they go from here, and all signs point to higher given the prevailing rates environment and general anxiety. The trick is buying the right ones, as financials and healthcare offer better value than more traditional areas like utilities, real estate, and consumer staples.
FINSUM: We think these are good sector selections as they have not seen as much price inflation as the more common dividend choices. Healthcare seems particularly interesting given that it is quite recession-resistant.
On paper, right now seems like a great time for dividend stocks. The rate environment is trending downward, which is very beneficial, and dividend stocks tend to provide a safe haven for a possible bear market or recession. But which to choose? You need to be careful to select stocks with sustainable payouts or they will have a high beta in a down market. With that in mind, take a look at these 5 dividend stocks: Exxon Mobil (4.6%), Chevron (3.9%), Excelon (2.9%), Prologis (2.6%), and NextEra Energy (2.4%).
FINSUM: These are pretty energy heavy, but the bigger point here is that it is a good time to buy dividend payers.
Markets are getting more volatile by the day. Last week was a rough one and yesterday was total carnage. Investors might be thinking about allocating shares into some safer sectors. With that in mind, here are 7 safe dividend payers to take shelter in: JP Morgan (2.8% yield), Sempra Energy (3.1%), NextEra Energy (2.6%), Air Products & Chemicals (2.3%), Honeywell International (1.9%), McCormick (1.5%), Microsoft (1.5%).
FINSUM: One of the big things to remember here is that with the Fed on hold, the big headwind against dividend stocks is pretty much removed.
Investors are always looking for good yields. While bonds are seeing higher yields now, high paying stocks offer something special because of the chance of capital appreciation. Such investors might be tempted by financial stocks right now, which are sporting juicy yields. However, Goldman Sachs is warning that investors need to beware. JP Morgan and other banks have been beaten up over the last year and are sporting payouts of above 3% in some cases. However, the big risk that is financial stocks are highly rate sensitive and tend to lose value as rates fall because of their lower profitability in such times. This pushes up dividends, but moves prices lower.
FINSUM: If you think we are even close to heading into a recession, buying financials is not a good idea. If you think this is a false signal, then banks may be a great buying opportunity right now.
Advisors tend to really like dividend stocks, and it makes sense why: clients need good income as they head into retirement. However, this desire leads some (especially retail investors) to overreach, choosing high paying, but ultimately fragile or unsustainable stocks. Right now is a good time to be looking for quality dividend payers, as their valuations relative to the market are the lowest in about 20 years. Some high quality names to look at include Macy’s (6.2%), General Motors (4.1%), Kellogg (4.1%), and Verizon (4.2%).
FINSUM: One of the best ways to judge the quality of dividend stocks is through focusing on free cash flow as that measure shows whether companies can really afford what they are paying out without hurting their underlying business.